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Tuesday, 6 December 1960

Mr MENZIES (Kooyong) (Prime Minister) . - I think one or two honorable members still have the Crimes Bill buzzing in their minds. I have heard quite a lot about known character this afternoon. There is nothing in this bill about known character. What this bill provides is that the Public Service Board, which after all is the employer for this purpose, ought to be at liberty to refuse to employ a person in the civil service if the board finds that he is not a fit and proper person. The board is not an irresponsible body. It is a well-known public service administrative authority. No one has ever accused it of being partisan in some political fashion. The board should be able to say, as any ordinary employer is, " I am sorry, I am not going to have this man; he has a conviction or something of the kind and I am not interested in him ".

The honorable member for Kingston (Mr. Galvin) garnished this a little with a hard luck story, which he detailed in his second-reading speech. I read it, as always, with great interest. Naturally, I made some inquiry as to the story he told. The story has every merit, but unfortunately it is not true.

Mr Galvin - It is true. 1 can tell you the man's name.

Mr MENZIES - You can say what you like about it. The security service is regarded as the big bad wolf by many people - not on this side of the chamber, but on the other side. Therefore, when this man, who is in the Postal Department, is refused promotion, it must be because there is a security objection to him. I have found out about him. I will not disclose his name, because it has not been mentioned.

He is a technician in the Postal Department. To obtain promotion to the rank of senior technician in his own department, he must pass a qualifying examination and he has not done so. It is just as simple as that. When other departments advertise positions and he applies, he takes his chance because, if other applicants are more highly qualified than he is, naturally the department seeking an officer will not appoint him. This is something out of which a great storm arises. It is a perfectly normal little episode in life.

Then, I am sorry to say, my friend the honorable member for Kingston says, " Ah, but it is the security service, because this man was once connected with it ". Sir, I will tell the honorable member that this man was connected with the security organization in a small way from 1951 to 1953. He claimed later on that he failed to secure employment with the Long Range Weapons Establishment because of something to do with security. In fact, no security objections were raised against him then or on any other occasion. It is just another of these instances in which something has gone wrong and it must be attributed to the security people.

I read about another case recently. 1 admit that this does not come from my friend. I saw it spreadeagled in a newspaper only in the last few days. It was said that security - that is our organization - had prevented a man from being appointed to an academic post in the University of New South Wales and on another occasion at Wagga. These things come so glibly to the tongue. They are good reading and they make good headlines. The correction is not much of a headline, but the story is. It was said that security had done something about this man. I inquired about the matter at once. The security organization of the Commonwealth had nothing to do with this man in relation to these institutions or at all. I want to make it quite clear that the Australian Security Intelligence Organization does not make security investigations for bodies of that kind. Tt has nothing to do with the University of New South Wales, with the college at Wagga, with the University of Sydney or with any other university. It is forgotten very frequently that each State has its own special branch which conducts its own investigations. State governments are not in the habit of calling on the Commonwealth to provide them with information that their own organizations can supply. I mention this because of the number of occasions on which the great security bogy is raised.

This provision in the bill has de facto operated for many years. We have thought fit to put it down in black and white so that the power of the board can be put beyond question. But to say that this ordinary power is to be subject on every occasion of refusal to an appeal to a judge reaches the high-water mark of fantasy. I cannot possibly accept the amendment.

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